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Hipolito Acosta; C.A. Heifner Education. (2012) 2012 Texas Book Festival Drugs & the Border Panel.

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Illinois 15, Us 11, America 6, Mr. Reid 5, California 4, Mr. Durbin 3, United States 3, Madam 2, Lord 2, Ronald Reagan 2, Durbin 2, Mr. Brown 2, Debbie Stabenow 2, Chicago 2, Michigan 2, Joe Biden 1, Biden 1, Barbara Boxer 1, Patrick J. Leahy 1, Sandy 1,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Hipolito Acosta; C.A. Heifner  Education.  (2012)  
   2012 Texas Book Festival Drugs & the Border Panel.  

    January 1, 2013
    2:00 - 3:00pm EST  

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a measure passed early this morning in the senate. it's now being considered by the house, and senators, meanwhile, are standing by in case the house makes any changes to that proposal. otherwise, no legislative work is planned in the senate today.
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the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. almighty god, source of strength for stressed-out emotions and strained minds, we don't pray to inform you of things you don't know or
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to urge you from your reluctance to help us. lord, we pray to obey your command, to arouse ourselves to action, to mitigate anxiety, to exercise faith, and to embrace your promises. thank you for using our senators, in the early morning hours of this new year, to accomplish your purposes. may the sparks from their bipartisan cooperation ignite flames of unity that will illuminate the inevitable darkness to come. lord, give our lawmakers the resiliency, resourcefulness, and resolve to accomplish your will
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on earth, even as it is done in heaven. we pray in your merciful name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c., january 1, 2013. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable barbara boxer, a senator from the
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state of california, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: patrick j. leahy, president pro tempore. mr. reid: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: so good to see the presiding officer presiding. madam president, after leader remarks, the senate will be in a period of morning business. senators will be allowed to speak for up to ten minutes each. we're waiting here on the house doing something finally on the cliff, we hope. we have sandy. we're waiting on that. and we have a series of economic -- executive nominations we need to clear today. i'm told h.r. 459 is at the desk and due for second reading. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the title of the bill for the second time. the clerk: h.r. 459, an act to require a full audit of the board of governors of the federal reserve system and so forth and for other purposes. mr. reid: madam president, i would object to any further proceedings at this time.
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the presiding officer: objection having been heard, the bill will be placed on the calendar. mr. reid: madam president, what is the business of the day? the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to a period of morning business until 3:30 for debate only with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. mr. reid: i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. durbin: madam president, i ask the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without
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objection. mr. durbin: i ask to speak in morning business. the presiding officer: the senator is recognized. mr. durbin: madam president, it was after 2:00 a.m. this morning when the senate finally passed this historic measure which puts the fiscal cliff behind us if the house of representatives follows through and passes it as well. i hope they take it up today or as quickly as possible and pass it with the same bipartisan spirit and vote that we saw on the floor of the united states senate last night. if i'm not mistaken, the final vote was 89-8, which was a significant bipartisan vote. it was a moment of high emotion in the senate for several reasons. first, on a personal level, many of our colleagues were casting their final vote as united states senators, those who were leaving the senate gathered in the well here, and we wished them the best. but it was also a moment of high emotion because i can't think of another vote in recent time that the american people followed so closely.
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i couldn't sit down on an airplane or in restaurant in chicago without having somebody come up to me and say, what's going to happen in they were very concerned, as they should have been, because the so-called fiscal cliff is a threat to our economic recovery and one that i believe finally mobilized on a bipartisan basis the majority necessary to pass this measure in the senate. the president showed extraordinary leadership on this matter. i know that he was personally invested in it, thought about it long and hard, left his family vacation, which he looks forward to and even more so after the campaign, to come back to washington and try to put together a solution to this fiscal crisis. he was success if l in the senatings and i hope he will be in the house as well. he had the able efforts of his vice president, joe biden, as well, to help in this effort. last night vice president biden came back to his home, the united states national, where he
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served for 36 years, and spoke to the senate democrats about the importance of this vote. it was almost an hour and a half on new year's eve, somewhat surreal, as we gathered some away from their spouses for the first time in decades, for this important vote and for an hour and a half we spoke and asked questions of the vice president and expressed our feelings. and you could sense during the course of thew meeting an emerging consensus among the democratic senators. in the end, there were all but three of the democratic senators who voted in favor of this measure. there are parts of it that many of us disagree with, even today, but we understand that is the nature of compromise, that part of what you have to accept may not be popular with you, but you have to be willing to compromise to solve problems. when we look at the issues that were before us, i think we made some significant progress.
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the most significant progress was to protect 99% of american families from any tax increase. unless -- if the senate measure is approved in the house, we will see 99% of american families spared a tax increase today. the vast majority of working families, middle-income families struggle. they live paycheck to paycheck. the pew institute did a survey within the last year or two asking working families a very basic question. if an emergency came up, could you find $2,000, borrow or find $2,000 to meet an emergency need. $2,000 is not an extraordinary amount of money when you consider that a simple trip to an emergency room or urgent care clinic could result in a $2,000 medical bill. they asked working families.
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barely half of american families had access to $2,000. and that tells you how close to the edge so many families live. had we not acted on this measure early this morning, these middle-income families would have faced an increase in their taxes of more than $2,000 a year. that's not only in illinois and california, but across the nation. so we had to come together and protect those families, and that was the starting point for the president's position on this issue and the starting point for the democrats. we passed six months ago in this chamber a measure which would have protected these families. we sent it to the house. they never called it. and we had to renew our efforts last night and successfully we were able to achieve that by the end of the evening. we had to bargain as usual, and the political atmosphere, and had to raise the exemption from $250,000 of family income to
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$450,000 of family income. but in so doing, we have protected working families from this tax increase which otherwise would have taken place. these families need the resources to not only meet the bills that they face each month but to try to save a little bit for the future for their families and for some of their own dreams about a better life. so that was the important first step in this package that was passed early this morning. the other thing that was part of it was the five-year extension. i wish it had been permanent; but a five-year extension on the earned-income tax credit. earned-income tax credit is a measure passed during the reagan administration which said that we would give working families a tax benefit for working. earned-income tax credit. and that is probably, as president reagan described it, the best way to eliminate reduced poverty in our nation. so the earned-income tax credit
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has been extended for five years. the child tax credit, which does exactly what it says, says to families with children, we will give you a tax credit to help you raise those children, that too was renewed for another five years. and a provision in the law which was added by senator schumer of new york years ago which helps working families to pay for college education, that too was included in this measure. so from a working family perspective, there are many good and important elements that were included in this measure. we also considered a lot of other tax measures, some of which i liked and some i didn't like. one of them in particular, the estate tax, is a tax that is widely misunderstood. this is a tax which applies to the very, very small fraction of a percentage of american families that when the breadwinner passes away have a valuable estate that can be
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subject to federal taxation. it is a very small percentage. some 3% might be affected by an estate tax and at the higher levels that we've discussed in our debate on this issue, less than 1% of estates end up paying any tax whatsoever into the federal government. the republicans insisted on a provision which senator kyl of arizona had been championing for years which would raise the exemption for states to over $5 million, which means a $5 million -- $5.1 million estate would not be subject to any taxation, and over that amount subject to a 40% tax responsibility. i personally think that it should have been a lower figure. we are dealing with the wealthiest people in america again, and many of them make plans, estate planning to avoid this tax throughout their lives. and it turns out that few of them, half of 1% of those who
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use this benefit are actually small businesses and farmers. most of them are very wealthy people who have done well. i can think of a friend of mine in central illinois. her father was a farmer and started with very modest means, bought some land and over time the land has mushroomed in value to the point where his estate is worth multimillions of dollars. she will have an estate that is huge, far beyond what she could imagine, and she would be subject to this tax. she is not a farmer. i don't think has ever been on a tractor, unless she did as a child. and it is an asset which would be subject to the estate tax. so we reached an agreement, albeit a reluctant agreement, to establish this estate tax exemption of $5.1 million subject to a tax beyond that of 40%. there were many other provisions
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related to the tax code, some of them very esoteric, but that was an important starting point here. protecting working families, protecting the deductions and credits they need the most and making certain they have revenue coming in from this. we anticipate some $600 billion in new revenue coming in to help reduce our deficit as a result of this. we also have something in the law which the presiding officer and i talked about for a moment, the alternative minimum tax. there was a time when they took a look at america and said how can this possibly be that some of the wealthiest people pay no taxes? so we established something called an alternative minimum tax which said even if under the regular tax code you escape all tax liability, you are going to be subject to the alternative minimum tax where you will pay something. well, it wasn't a bad idea 30 or 40 years ago when the debate started. but because we didn't index the income that was associated with it, over the years this
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alternative minimum tax hit not only the wealthy, but started hitting those middle-income categories. each year we had to kind of postpone the impact of this tax on middle-families, families in the $100,000 to $200,000 range. this has been vexing us for decades. this morning in the senate with the passage of this legislation we have dealt with the problem once and for all. we have a permanent fix on the alternative minimum tax. it is something that i'm sure most american families are probably puzzled over, but it's an important element. and getting this behind us was critically important as well. we also managed to extend the doc fix. what is that all about? over ten years ago we said we're going to save some money in medicare. we're just going to take a little percentage cut each year in how much we would pay doctors and hospitals who treat medicare patients. therefore, we'll reduce the cost of medicare and be done with it. guess what?
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we had a great idea, but when it came to imposing the law, the doctors and hospitals pushed back and said, wait a minute, we need this compensation for our care of medicare patients. and, therefore, we postponed it. and every year we postponed it, what we were supposed to save we had to come up with from other sources. the so-called doc fix, s.g.r., is another one. like the alternative minimum tax, which has haunted us as we've done these budgets year in and year out. we didn't solve this problem permanently. we solved it for one year. otherwise what would have happened is starting today doctors and hospitals would have seen a reduction in their government reimbursement for treating patients of over 25%. the net result would have been in springfield and chicago, illinois, and across the nation in ohio and california, many doctors and hospitals would have said we can no longer afford to thaoet trees patients -- trao*et these patients and the 40 million americans who depend on
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medicare would have had fewer choices for treatment. we resolved that issue in the early morning hours with this vote for one year we have solved that problem. another thing we have done which is critically important is extend unemployment benefits for one year. two million americans -- two million -- would have lost their tphoeut benefits -- would have lost their unemployment benefits this morning as a result of this so-called fiscal cliff if we had not taken action. that means an awful lot in my state of illinois, as i mentioned two million on a statewide, probably nationwide basis. but we also have literally tens of thousands in my own state that face the same basic problem. these are people who have been out of work for a long time. some of them are in school. some are taking courses for retraining. all are trying to keep their family together, not lose their home while they're unemployed. so the extension of these unemployment benefits was the
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president's second-highest priority after protecting middle-income americans, and is included in this package. it's an important element. one last point. when you ask the congressional budget office if you had to spend one tax dollar to help the economy, where would you spend it it? they would tell you it's clear, unemployment benefits. the dollar that you spend on unemployment benefits goes directly back into the economy. these people aren't salt it go away for a rainy day. they aren't investing it. they're spending it on goods and services to get by. utility bills, rent, mortgage payments, food and clothing; the basics of life. as they spend it back into the economy, it is respent. each dollar has kind of a multiplier effect behind of it of $1.60 ultimately into the economy. not only the humane and right thing to do for those who are out of work and struggling, but also a good thing tporg -- for boosting economic growth. that's an important part.
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one of the real disappointments last night -- and i have to tell you it really is sad it has come to this -- relates to the farm bill. we have -- the chairman of the agriculture committee in the senate, senator debbie stabenow of michigan, and past chairmen serving here all acknowledge, as we do, she's done such an extraordinary job. her leadership in constructing a farm bill this year really was masterful. i have been around congress for 30 years, house and the senate. you can pick out the real legislators, and debbie stabenow is a real legislator. she sat down and crafted a farm bill. you may not think of michigan as a farm state. it is. and she looked at this bill in terms of its entirety. and in its entirety the farm bill is about more than farmers and ranchers. it's also about nutrition and food programs and school lunch and food stamps. they're all included in this bill. so she tackled it with the
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ranking republican member, pat roberts of kansas, and really came up with an amazing work product. she had over 63 votes in the senate for this farm bill, bipartisan support for this farm bill. let me tell what you it did. it not only ended up with a bill that had the support of every major farm organization, which is no mean feat, it saved over $23 billion in deficit reduction in five years. she went after some of the indefensible programs like the direct payment program to farmers, which they readily acknowledge needed to go away, took those programs aside and put the money to deficit reduction. she went to the nutrition programs which are critically important in a struggling economy, with families facing income inequality and she protected those. those are important to phaoerbgs and i worked with -- those are important to me and we came up with an honest, balanced approach twhe came to nutrition
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programs. we passed the bill and sent it to the house of representatives. they not only could not pass their own farm bill -- never did -- but they wouldn't even consider calling the bill that the senate, the bipartisan senate bill. the farm organizations were begging them, call it. we need a five-year program on farming. they wouldn't do it. never did it. and so there was a lot of frustration over here that we did good work on a bill. the house could not put a bill on the floor and wouldn't take our bill up. the thing that brought it together, incidentally, at the last minute, why it was included in this emergency package, it turns out that under the law, if you don't pass a new farm bill, you revert to the 1949 farm bill. talk about going back in history and picking up a law which has little application to today's world, that's what happens. and one particular issue jumped off the page. dairy support. now, last night i bid farewell
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to senator herb kohl of wisconsin. i'm going to miss him more than most people can imagine because herb kohl spent the time and understood america's dairy program. madam president, i confess i don't understand this program. vaguely, yes. but if it was on the final, i'd flunk. so i used to go to dairy issues -- with dairy issues to senator kohl. wisconsin dairy farmers and illinois dairy farmers always saw eye to eye. i said herb, you're my dairy expert. you tell me. you're my advisor. herb is retiring. i'll need a new advisor. we found out if we had not passed a farm bill and reverted to the 1949 dairy program, the price of milk would double to $10 a gallon, and that to me was unacceptable, unacceptable to the white house. and as a result, we had to come through with an emergency measure to avoid that possibility. we should have taken the
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bipartisan senate farm bill. senator stabenow begged for us to do this, could not get that into the negotiation. and i'll say one thing it, really, really disappointed me last night, at the last minute they had one aspect of the dairy program that they needed to take care of. it cost some $60 million though $100 million. we needed to find a pay-for and unfortunately the other side of the aisle insisted that the pay-for for this dairy support come from the federal food stamp program. that is just -- that's sad. we had so much waste in our agriculture programs that we identified in our farm bill, and the fact that they would turn the federal food stamp program, the snap program to come up with this money to me, is really difficult to understand, explain, or defend. i'm really saddened by that. i guarantee you, we will return to that. so, madam president, what we did early -- in the early morning
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hours is important for us. it isn't the end of the story. there's more that we will face. in 60 days if we don't take care, we're abouting to face another cliff of our own making. because in 60 days three things come together: the debt ceiling, what's the debt ceiling? america's mortgage. when we spend money for a war, for the department of agriculture, whatever it happens to be, ultimately we borrow 40 cents for every dollar we spend. so every president is forced to renew the mortgage, the debt ceiling of the united states. i think under president ronald reagan it was down over and over again, many times without even a record voavment bu vote. in a matter of 60 days or so, we'll face another need to renew america's mortgage; in other words, the full faith and credit of the united states government of the and that is going to be contentious, a matter of debate. at the same time, the continuing
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resolution, our temporary spending bill, expires. at the same time, the sequestration conviction in, which is -- sequestration kicks in, which is automatic spending cuts. so we'll have another challenge. let's hope we learned a lesson from this one. the american people are sick and tired of incompetence and political posturing and failure of congress to come together on a bipartisan basis to some of a problem. and they want us to get the problem solved and get this nation moving forward. in the early morning hours in the national w senate, we finald it. now i hope the house will do the same, follow the senate example, and 60 days from now we can approach this problem in a sober, honest mature way instead of a partisan fashion. that's what the american people expect. i took a look, incidentally, of the specific impact of this this
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morning's vote on my state of illinois and for the record, over 5 million i will i will families will be spared a tax increase under the agreement that we passed in the early morning hours. almost all of them, the working families we described earlier. without an agreement, the average family in illinois would have faced an increase in taxes of more than $2,000. half a million families in my state will continue to receive college tuition tax credits making it easier to send their kids to college. as much as $1,000 of assistance each year, which i'm sure is a helping hand. 1.5 million illinois families raising children will continue to benefit from the child tax credit, a yearly savings of about $1,000, on average, for each of these illinois families from kids. working families in illinois will continue to receive the earned income tax credit, over 230,000 illinois families benefited from that tax credit last year. more than a million illinois taxpayers are protected from an
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increase in taxes under the alternative minimum tax, which i mentioned to you earlier. thousands of illinois children will continue to have access to school readiness programs like head start. low-income families will continue to benefit from low-income energy programs, lie liheap. it protects nutrition assistance, prenatal care so we can have more healthy babies, and healthy moms. the elderly, disabled, low-income familieses and veterans will continue to receive housing assistance. over 88,000 illinoisans will continue to receive the unemployment benefits. and illinois businesses will benefit from more than $8.5 billion spending of consumer spending in a time when we desperately need this in our economy. let me say one last word. i have been involved in this deficit discussion fo discussiog
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period of time. this is not a deficit-reduction measure. it does reduce it. but the arcane scoring by the c.b.o. will not give us any credit for reducing the deficit. we do have more revenue coming in, but some of the other measures would be scored as send expenditures. we still have a deficit issue. we still have a deficit problem. what we tried to establish this morning in this vote, revenue has to be part of every solution on deficit reduction. the other side of the aisle reluctantly, after years of resisting it, came to our side in the early morning hours. that's number one. number two, we need to take an honest look at entitlements. here's what the facts are: social security untouched, unamended, unchanged will make every promised payment for 20 years. you can't say that about any other federal program. 20 years of payments with cost-of-living adjustments every singles year, and on the 21st year, there will be a dropoff of
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30% in terms of social security benefits. so we have 20 years. we can wait, we can wait five, ten, or fifteen to do something about it. or maybe this year, 2013. that's i'd like to to. i'm preparing legislation which will call for the creation of a commission, to come up with a plan for 75-year solvency of social security. when you have it and it's been certified to be a valid plan, report it to congress to be considered without debate -- i shouldn't say "without debate." without filibuster, without delay, and any member that can offer a substitute amendment that achieves 75-year solvency can also call their measure at the same time. let us have this chance to have this debate and to make sure we have solvency for social security that will affect not only all of our lives but the lives of our children and beyond. that, to me, is a responsible thing to do. medicare -- much tougher.
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medicare goes broke in 12 years. 12 years. why? well, because low lo and behold, today 10,000 americans reached the age of 65. we knew it was coming, but as the baby boomers show up, their demand for services that they have paid for and i vested in throughout their working lives are going to continuing to he grow. those people who say there's too much government spend, we've got to stop the government spending, i want to ask them, are you going to a to the millions of americans who paid into social security for a lifetime, paid into medicare for a lifetime, that we're going 0 walkway from our obligations? of course not. what we have to do on medicare is find a way to meet this growing population with demands and the mushrooming costs of health care. we can do it. there are ways to save money, humane ways to save money and protect the integrity and future
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of social security, medicare, and medicaid. i think that the president's obamacare, as it's been characterized, or affordable health care arctic senior senator a step in that drefntle but we need to do more. i see my friend and colleague from owe own the floor. i want to yield to him and thank him for his friendship and his leadership on these important issues. i yield the floor. mr. brown: i thank the senior senator from illinois, the assistant majority leader. the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: thank you, madam president. i concur in the remarks that senator durbin just made, especially about the vote last night. i -- you know, the most -- the primary thing we did was we spared that $2,000 tax increase for so many families in california and illinois and ohio and acrossing this country. i remember the presiding officer telling a group of us last night how many hundreds of thousands of californians would have been -- would have lost their unemployment insurance if we had not acted last night the way
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that we did. my criteria -- fundamental criteria in voting on this issue and voting for this issue was we were able successfully to stop cuts in social security to pay for some of this plan or raising the retirement age for medicare or not doing the unemployment insurance in the way that we did. so all of those were victories last night. i also concur with senator durbin that we -- while adding five years to the earned-income tax credit, locking in one of the best poverty-fighting programs begun by ronald reagan, suggested i believe by milton friedman, supported by both parties for many years, we're not seeing that the that that d to with the earned-income tax credit. it rewards people that work, a family making $30,000 a year, not more than the minimum wage,
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$3, $4 more than the minimum wage that they get significant tax credits shall what friedman called a negative income tax. this works so well for encouraging work in this country. we did that only for five years while the estate tax bringing it up to $5 million exemption, which i thought was far too generous because it's only paid by far fewer than 1% of the american people, that was made permanent while the earned-income tax credit was only made for five years. the tax credit for college students, for families was so important in this legislation, too, and much of what we did was simply ask the wealth wealthy ta little bit more, to bring tax rates back to the levels of the 1990's. i think it's important to put it in a little historicaal perspective. in the 1990's, tax rates were a little bit higher for upper-income people.
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we saw in those eight years in the 1990's from 1990 to 2000, the presiding officer's first year in the senate in 1993, my first year in the house, we saw that we -- we saw incredible economic growth. wages went up for the average american, average/oweia average, average californian. and president clinton left office with the largest budget surplus in american history. we know what happened the next eight years where we saw very little economic growth, only about a million bein net jobs bg created in those eight years. and we saw, which hit my state particularly hard, we saw a real deline in manufacturing. from 2000 to 2010, we lost in this country net 5 million manufacturing jobs. and manufacturing jobs -- maybe people that dress like this
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around here don't think much about that. i know the presiding officer does, because her state is the number-one manufacturing state in the country. it's especially important in my state. we lost hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs and while we lost 5 million manufacturing jobs nationally, tens of thousands -- i believe 60,000 in the number of manufacturing plants closed in those ten years. but the good news is since the auto rescue, we have seen beginning to be significant manufacturing job growth, some 500,000 new manufacturing jobs since 2010, almost every month -- not quite every month but almost every month koreans in manufacturing jobs. we know what a manufacturing jobs job disco. for workers making $20 or $25 an hour, that worker is spending money in that community that worker is buying inks this, buying a home, buying a character putting people to work, creating jobs at restaurants, creating jobs at the hardware store, paying
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property tax to hire teachers, hiring firefighters and police sms we know what manufacturing jobs do. since the auto rescue, in my state the unemployment rate went from ^10 10.6%, soon after the o rescue took effect. and now the unemployment rate is under%. it's not what it ought to be, but i think that's what last night's vote ultimately, madam president, was a recognition of, that the people here with this 89-8 vote -- 89 votes "yes," 8 votes "no," strong bipartisan support, which i hope we see this afternoon in the house -- i think it was a recognition that you don't grow the economy by tax cuts for the rich and trickle-down economics. we tried at that in the last decade. it didn't work. we understand -- historical evidence shows by focusing on the middle class, tax cuts for the middle class, investments in schools and investments in infrastructure, unemployment
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nuns for people that have lost their jobs, keeping social security and medicare strong, investing in college credits and rewarding work through the earned-income tax credit, we grow the economy from the middle class out, and that succeeded in the 1990's, 20-plus million new manufacturing jobs. trickle down didn't do see good afterwards. now we're recognizing with this vote last night, both parties are recognizing that you grow the economy from the middle class out. i think that's why last night was a huge victory. surely politically pour the president. but what it was a victory for, really, madam president, with aes a victory for the middle class and a victory for those who want to join, aspire to the middle class and strick fo -- aa victory for this country-of-origin. with that, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the nuclear from i would wievment